Wildlife Habitats

by Rebecca Lindenmeyr

Habitat fragmentation is a serious problem across the country and a significant contributor to the loss of biodiversity worldwide. Here in Vermont, development in the Burlington area continues to fragment the habitat blocks that remain. Preserving as much forest and open land as possible is of course the first line of defense, but in many situations the damage has already been done and then the goal becomes finding ways to reconnect the fragments. Continue reading

by Carol Gracie

Our spring wildflowers, many of them ephemerals that grace our woodlands for only a brief period each year, are intricately tied to other organisms in the environment. Their flowering time evolved over millennia in woodlands that once cloaked most of the eastern part of the country. During colonial times the forests were cleared for building and heating materials, and the land converted to farmland. When greener pastures and richer soils were discovered in the Midwest, many early settlers moved west allowing much of the eastern farmland to slowly regenerate to forest. It is in these forests and woodlands that our spring wildflowers are found. Continue reading

by Rebecca Lindenmeyr

Thanks to the pioneering work of E.O. WilsonDoug TallamyJonathan FoleyMarla Spivak and many others, the public has begun to accept the need for native plants in the landscape in order to help increase biodiversity and protect pollinators. It turns out that people really do like nature and are willing to change their habitats if the payoff is more birds, bees, butterflies, and wildlife in general. As ecological landscape designers and installers, we are lucky to be on the front lines and in positions that would allow us to help our clients restore habitats and reduce the spread of invasive species on over half the acreage in the lower 48 States, which is the total area currently in suburban/urban use. That’s enormous positive potential. Continue reading

by Dan Jaffe

One of the great reasons to plant native species rather than their non-native counterparts is the support they provide to local wildlife populations. Simply put: If you plant native species–any native species–you will support a greater array of wildlife than if you had planted the same area with non-native species. The basic principle is that wildlife needs food, water, and shelter. However, for those gardeners truly interested in creating a creature-friendly environment, it is possible to do more. Continue reading

by Kathleen Salisbury

As you spend the winter planning additions for your landscape and troll through the countless catalogs you have been getting in the mail, it is easy to think about the colorful spring blooms that put an end to the dull winter months. However, as you plan, don’t forget the late blooming flowers! Order them as well to ensure a landscape that is not only interesting in all seasons but offers food for wildlife as they prepare for migration or the lean winter months. Continue reading

by Karen Lyness LeBlanc

Native bees are not receiving the attention honeybees have been given recently, but they are also experiencing a significant population decline. In places where there is significant natural habitat, native bees may provide all of the pollination needed for some crops. So maintaining habitat for native bees has economic, as well as ecological benefits. Continue reading

by Nanette Masi

Invited to submit an entry for the Container Garden Invitational Display at the 2011 Boston Flower & Garden show, ELA put out a call to members for designs. A committee selected Nanette Masi’s native habitat garden design to represent ELA. ELA wants to thank Cavicchio Greenhouse for the loan of pots for the container garden and to express great appreciation to Van Berkum Nursery for donated plant material, forcing blooms, and expert advice.

Black Swallowtail on parsley

When I began designing wildlife habitats, little did I know that the graceful black butterfly, with its delicate long black “tails” and bright blanket stitch of yellow, blue, and red, first hatches from its egg disguised as bird poop. It may be rather ugly, but the larva certainly has effective camouflage. No self-respecting bird is likely to eat its own poop. So, safely under cover, the Black Swallowtail larva begins munching one of its favorite dinner leaves: a beautiful native, Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea), and a member of the carrot family. Mother butterfly planned ahead for this moment, laying her eggs on a plant that provides the perfect diet for her fussy offspring. Continue reading

by Louise Barteau

There is a special feeling that comes from planting a tree and watching a bird land in it for the first time. Or planting milkweed for monarch butterflies and watching the first monarch fly across the backyard and lay her eggs on it. I felt that small rising of hope and connection in the late spring of 2009. After a long series of difficult events, I ended up on a small island off the coast of Buzzard’s Bay. I was exhausted and depressed but clutching $180 worth of hope in the form of seeds from Monarch Watch, a cooperative network of students, teachers, volunteers, and researchers dedicated to the study of the monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus. Continue reading

Article by: Kate Venturini, of the URI Outreach Center

Buffer zones between development and shoreline habitat are attempted in many states, but rarely work well enough to protect the ecosystem. Laws and enforcement vary between communities, as do development histories and how people interact with the environment. Realizing this dilemma, land developers are finding common solutions to invigorate buffers across the country by turning to ecology. Relying on native plants to distance fragile coastal shores from the impact of human development does more than obey a zoning laws. Growing healthy native buffers gives coastal habitat a true shot at survival and regeneration. The Native Plant Design Manual offers a new strategies to design rich coastal buffers. The Manual was created for a New England coastal climate, though the paradigm shifting approach presented is transferable to any ecosystem.
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